Across the Chel-sea

Student discusses experience living abroad for year


photo credit: courtesy photo

Welcoming the new kid \\ Beaming from ear to ear, Chelsea Ombadykow (center of the photo) poses for a class picture at her private school Mare de Deu del Roser in Barcelona. “The school didn’t have an ideal education system, and I’d much rather learn in the U.S., but the city has a wonderful social system,” Ombadykow said.

writer: Gloria Olajimi, Editor-in-Chief

Your parents decide your family should venture beyond your home in Colorado and move to a different country- only temporarily. You can choose to live between three places: Geneva, Switzerland which is close to your family, Paris, France, a favorite of your parents, or Barcelona, Spain. Which would you choose?

For sophomore Chelsea Ombadykow, Barcelona was the perfect destination.  

“We moved because my parents wanted my brother and I to experience a different cultural and linguistic experience from that of the U.S. We chose Barcelona because my brother and I didn’t like Paris, which ironically is my middle name, and Geneva’s cost of living is too high,” Ombadykow said. 

Chelsea Ombadykow is known for her artistic capabilities and lively sense of humor. But what students may not know is that in the sixth grade, Ombadykow moved to Eixample, Barcelona where she lived for an entire year. 

Chelsea has such an interesting story and is one of my favorite people,” Student Service Secretary Ms. Jen Crane said.  

I was originally extremely nervous, but after the first month, it all turned into excited energy

— Chelsea Ombadykow, sophomore

Before moving, Ombadykow worried about the conflict she would encounter with transitioning to an entirely new culture, but after four weeks in Spain, she fell in love with her new home. 

I was originally extremely nervous, but after the first month, it all turned into excited energy,” Ombadykow said. 

During her stay, she learned Barcelona’s local language, Catalan, as well as Spanish. Ombadykow attended the private school Mare de Deu del Roser which was an experience she did not completely enjoy.  

“I prefer learning in the U.S. over learning there,” Ombadykow said. “They don’t have any advanced programs. None. You’re grouped into two categories: those who know Catalan and those who don’t. No advanced or fast paced courses.”

Everyday after school, Ombadykow would spend her afternoons exploring Barcelona. 

“I had a lot of access to transportation that I don’t experience in the US, there seems to be more of a local support and relation system which I loved, and all stores and cafes and restaurants are a walk away,” Ombadykow said. 

She made special memories at Barcelona with her family and new friends, but what she treasured most were the little moments throughout the journey. 

“My favorite memory from Barcelona is really just a series of small moments like looking out the window in the Portugués cafe, laughing with my friends, and studying Catalan with a best friend. Just little moments,” Ombadykow said. 

Living abroad came with its challenges and for Ombadykow, the most difficult of challenges were time zone differences and loneliness. 

“Similarly to me, all of my friends in Barcelona were immigrants, and their parents were overprotective because they came from China and a hostile area of the Philippines, so they were never really permitted to go hang out with friends or outside of school in general without constant supervision, which wasn’t possible because they had two working parents,” Ombadykow said. “My friends in Colorado couldn’t find time for me because of the eight hour time difference and forgot about me over time, so it was really just my family and I when school wasn’t in session. The weird limbo of having friends but never hanging out physically with them was tough only in retrospect, though, it didn’t bother me in the moment.”

Despite the relational barriers, Ombadykow enjoyed and learned from her days in Spain. 

I loved living in Spain. My main takeaway from living abroad is to always walk into a situation with an open mindset. I still struggle with this myself, but it’s the concept that has stuck with me ever since. If I could travel again, I’d rather go back to Barcelona, and place myself right in the same apartment, or smack dab in the middle of Seoul, South Korea,” Ombadykow said. 

For students who would like to travel to another country through a foreign exchange program, the school has yet to send students to study abroad and most likely will not anytime soon. 

“When the other counselors and I discuss it, it seems that it may be tough for students to get the appropriate school credits to apply to their US graduation once they return,” said counselor Mr. Jeff Hattaway. 

Ombadykow also warns that the journey may not be for everyone but may still be worth a try.

“The person would have to be headstrong and determined; moving to an entirely different country takes a lot of perseverance and commitment. I do believe it is something everyone should be able to experience if given the chance,” Ombadykow said. 

This poll has ended.

Would you travel abroad if the foreign exchange program allowed students to?


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